[MARMAM] New publication: UAS impacts on marine mammals

Courtney Smith - NOAA Affiliate courtney.smith at noaa.gov
Fri Jan 22 10:27:49 PST 2016

Hi MARMAM community,

My colleagues and I are pleased to announce the publication of a literature
review focusing on the known impacts of unmanned aerial systems on marine
mammals. This review is one of a special series of invited papers on the
use of unmanned vehicle systems in wildlife studies.

Assessment of known impacts of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on marine
mammals: data gaps and recommendations for researchers in the United
E. Smith, Seth T. Sykora-Bodie, Brian Bloodworth, Shalynn M. Pack, Trevor
R. Spradlin, Nicole R. LeBoeuf. Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems,
Published on the web 22 January 2016, 10.1139/juvs-2015-001.
Abstract: The development of advanced technologies to enhance conservation
science often outpaces the abilities of wildlife managers to assess and
ensure such new tools are safely used in proximity to wild animals.
Recently, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have become more accessible to
civilian operators and are quickly being integrated into existing research
paradigms to replace manned aircraft. Several federal statutes require
scientists to obtain research permits to closely approach protected species
of wildlife, such as marine mammals, but the lack of available information
on the effects of UAS operations on these species has made it difficult to
evaluate and mitigate potential impacts. Here, we present a synthesis of
the current state of scientific understanding of the impacts of UAS usage
near marine mammals. We also identify key data gaps that are currently
limiting the ability of marine resource managers to develop appropriate
guidelines, policies, or regulations for safe and responsible operation of
UAS near marine mammals. We recommend researchers prioritize collecting,
analyzing, and disseminating data on marine mammal responses to UAS when
using the devices to better inform the scientific community, regulators,
and hobbyists about potential effects and assist with the development of
appropriate mitigation measures.

The article is available from the publisher's website (
) or by request at courtney.smith at noaa.gov.


*Principal Scientist:*
*Marine Mammal Conservation & Recovery Specialist*
Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
NOAA Fisheries Service - Office of Protected Resources
Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division (F/PR2)
1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring MD  20910
Email: courtney.smith at noaa.gov
Website: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/
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